Psych Crime Reporter

August 7, 2013

Universal Health Services among defendants in sexual “grooming” suit

PHOENIX (CN) – A medical health technician seduced a mother of six at a psychiatric hospital, then got her to leave her family and “borrowed” $1,000 from her, the woman and her husband claim in court.

Kristiina Wuollet, and her husband Theodore claim that Clarence Copeland, then a medical health technician at Valley Hospital Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Care, began “grooming” Kristiina while she was a patient at the hospital.

They sued Copeland, the hospital, Universal Health Services, and Ascend Health Corp., in Maricopa County Court.

“During the duration that plaintiff Kristiina Wuollet resided at the facility, defendant Copeland began ‘grooming’ her, taking advantage of his position on her treatment team and of her vulnerability, through continuously flattering her and by initiating inappropriate intimate conversations with her,” the lawsuit states.

The Wuollets claim that Copeland’s job required him to “function as an active part of plaintiff’s treatment team, providing continuous patient care, supervision, interaction, and role modeling, and whose work was under the direction and care of a registered nurse.”

When Kristiina was discharged from Valley Hospital, Copeland got her contact information from her patient file and “began sexting with her and engaging her in numerous daily phone conversations,” according to the complaint.

Kristiina left her husband and children shortly after she was discharged, “moved in with defendant Copeland, and continued a sexual affair which had begun during her residency at the facility and continued for approximately eight months,” according to the lawsuit.

Theodore Wuollet says he filed a complaint with Valley Hospital after Kristiina was discharged, “providing evidence of the text message exchanges between his wife and defendant Copeland,” but Valley Hospital failed to respond.

The Wuollets, who have been married since 1987, claim Kristiina “was unable to protect herself from the exploitation she suffered at the hands of defendants.”

Copeland, who is no longer employed by the hospital, “abused his position of trust and ‘borrowed’ $1,000 from plaintiff Kristiina Wuollet, which has not been repaid,” the complaint states.

Copeland continued to contact Kristiina, including one instance “when he called her at her place of work and drove there to talk to her, threatening to move closer to her home so he could see her,” according to the complaint.

Valley Hospital did not respond by press time to a request for comment.

The Wuollets seek damages for breach of fiduciary duty, medical negligence, elder abuse and infliction of emotional distress.

They are represented by Terrence Woods and Marilyn Cage with Broening, Oberg, Woods & Wilson.

Source: Jamie Roos, “Hospital Tech Accused of Seducing Patient,” Courthouse News, August 7, 2013.


August 30, 2012

Nineteen plaintiffs file Zoloft birth defects lawsuits in West Virginia

Filed under: birth defects,lawsuit — Psych Crime Reporter @ 11:24 am

In July 2012, nineteen plaintiffs filed Zoloft birth defect lawsuits in Wayne Circuit Court in West Virginia. Each lawsuit seeks to hold Pfizer, Zoloft’s manufacturer, liable for birth defects allegedly caused by ingestion of the antidepressant during pregnancy.

Zoloft was introduced to the market in 1991, and approved by the FDA to treat depression. The drug was later approved to treat panic disorder, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Post-marketing reports and subsequent lawsuits, however, have indicated that the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication may be linked to an increased risk of heart, brain, lung, and other birth defects when taken by pregnant women.

Nineteen Plaintiffs Claim Birth Defects

The nineteen plaintiffs who filed lawsuits in West Virginia allege that after taking the antidepressant during pregnancy, they gave birth to children suffering from various birth defects. The birth defects include atrial and septal heart defects, holes in the heart, persistent pulmonary hypertension of a newborn (PPHN), neural tube defects, craniofacial defects and other malformations. The plaintiffs claim that Pfizer was aware of the link between Zoloft and the risk of birth defects, yet Pfizer failed to adequately warn physicians and expectant mothers.

These types of birth defects often require multiple surgeries and ongoing medical care. Parents claim that their minor children have suffered and will continue to suffer injuries, damages, and losses. The plaintiffs seek both compensatory and punitive damages.

FDA Warns of Potential Link Between Zoloft and Birth Defects

In 2006 , the FDA first warned of a possible connection between Zoloft and possible birth defects. That year, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that found women who took Zoloft during pregnancy had a higher than normal rate of infants born with (PPHN), a dangerous condition that interferes with circulatory health and the infant’s ability to breathe.

A short time later, other studies linked the use of SSRI antidepressants, like Zoloft, with heart defects, brain defects, skull and limb defects, and abdominal defects.

In 2009, a study in the British Journal of Medicine reported that the use of Zoloft during the first trimester of pregnancy increased the risk of atrial septal heart defects. These defects result when the heart does not develop normally, and the infant is born with holes in the upper chambers, leading to fatigue, shortness of breath, and lack of appetite.

Recent Study Illuminates Other Risks

A more recent study published in 2012 in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology also linked the use of antidepressants during pregnancy to certain risks. Researchers found that among nearly 229,000 infants, those whose mothers used antidepressants during the second trimester were more at risk for preterm birth. Mothers who took the antidepressants during pregnancy were also at a higher risk for giving birth to a baby of smaller size, and having a baby who suffered a seizure.

On April 12, 2012, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated all federal Zoloft lawsuits into one court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Other cases, like the nineteen mentioned here, continue to be filed in state courts across the country.

Source: Eric Chaffin, “Nineteen Plaintiffs File Zoloft Birth Defects Lawsuits in West Virginia,” The Legal Examiner, August 21, 2012.

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